UN Declaration on Universal Health Coverage to Include Language on Worker Health

Published June 6, 2019

On April 29, 2019, the president of the General Assembly of the United Nations convened a hearing in New York to prepare for an upcoming meeting on universal health coverage. According to the UN’s website, the purpose of the hearing was to discuss urgent actions related to universal health coverage.

The outcome of the hearing was a draft declaration that notes more than two million people die every year from preventable occupational diseases and injuries and describes the need to “scale up efforts to provide healthier and safer workplaces and access to occupational health services, and to ensure health coverage for all workers.” The draft declaration also refers to “[protecting] health workers from all forms of violence, attacks, and discriminatory practices, and [ensuring] their safe working environment and conditions at all times.”

The language related to workers appears in paragraphs 29 and 52 of the draft declaration and was included at the suggestion of the International Occupational Hygiene Association, the International Commission on Occupational Health, and other stakeholders. The declaration is expected to be adopted at the planned meeting of the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2019.

The draft declaration is available on the UN website. More information about the recent hearing and the upcoming General Assembly meeting is also available.

Related: In September 2018 meeting of the UN General Assembly, Heads of State endorsed a declaration on tuberculosis that aims to strengthen action and investments to end the TB epidemic globally by 2030. That declaration also includes language related to workers.